(Note: Our Workout Wednesday series is brought to you by OrthoCarolina. Don’t forget to warm up and stretch inside before you go out for a winter run.)
I’m trying out a different workout class each week and reporting back for your entertainment every Wednesday. This includes homegrown fitness concepts all the way up to the big national franchises and everything in between. This week I’m taking a detour from working out to have my body fat and lean muscle mass percentages calculated in the Bod Pod. Follow along here, browse our fitness archives for more, send class suggestions to email@example.com or challenge me to your favorite workout. I am here to suffer.
Name: Carolina Body Metrics
Location: SmartCore Fitness, 831 Baxter Street, Charlotte, NC 28202
Schedule: Appointments available Tuesdays and Thursdays (see availability and book here)
Duration: 10 minutes
Drop-in rate: $45
Group rate: Special group pricing is available for health clubs, sports teams and corporate wellness programs. Contact for details.
Good for: people who want a baseline number other than weight from which to gauge workout progress
Bad for: people who are claustrophobic
How to dress and what to bring
You need to wear as little clothing as possible that fits tightly to your body. For women, this could be a one-piece swimsuit or a swimsuit top with compression shorts. For men, compression shorts are recommended. Jewelry isn’t allowed in the pod so take it off or leave it at home.
What to expect
The Bod Pod is a chamber that uses air displacement technology to measure the amount of fat and lean mass (muscle, water, bones and organs) in your body. There are several other ways to calculate these numbers that you may have heard of, including skin fold calipers, bioelectrical impedance and hydrostatic weighing. (Carolina Body Metrics outlines the pros and cons of each on their website here.)
For the most accurate results, don’t eat or drink anything 1 hour prior to your appointment.
The Bod Pod looks like a little personal space shuttle that, unfortunately, does not fly into the air. You’ll be inside it for a series of three consecutive 40-second intervals and your entire appointment will take less than 10 minutes. Before stepping in, the operator will have you step on a scale and ask for your height. Have an accurate measure of your height since this will affect your final result.
While inside the pod, you’ll likely feel your ears pop as the pressure rises, not unlike driving into the mountains or taking off on an airplane. Other than that, you’ll feel no different than you would sitting on a chair in the middle of the room.
When you’re done you’ll get a print out that breaks down the composition of your body by fat and lean muscle percentages and pounds. You’ll also get your estimated resting metabolic rate (RMR), which is how many calories you body burns at rest, as well as your estimated total energy expenditure (TEE), which is how many calories your body burns based on your level of activity.
Interpreting your results
Based on your numbers, you’ll receive a body fat rating of ultra lean, lean, moderately lean or excess fat. Anything lower than “ultra lean” or higher than “excess fat” is considered risky on opposite ends of the spectrum. Since the Bod Pod is only here to deliver results and is not intended to diagnose or counsel, you should take your results to a doctor, dietitian or trainer if you’re concerned about where you fall on the rating scale.
Locker room situation
I wore my compression clothes under a giant sweatsuit but if you need to change, there’s a private curtain dressing room next to the Bod Pod.
I’ve done skin fold caliper and bioelectrical impedance tests before and the Bod Pod is less invasive than the skin fold (which involves a stranger pinching your fat with little clippers) and arguably more accurate than BIA. Now that I’m 30 and aging into a natural loss of muscle mass (weeee!), keeping an eye on body fat and lean muscle mass numbers will tell me more about my overall physical fitness than just the number on a scale.
According to WebMD — my doctor — loss of muscle mass (known as sarcopenia) can result in a loss of 3 to 5% of lean muscle mass per decade after age 30 in inactive people. The best prevention? Exercise.